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High Court as Israel's Morality Police

This article was published in Hebrew in Yediot Aharonot and in English on Ynet web site on Nov. 30,2016

It’s time for the High Court of Justice to examine its peculiar policy of criticizing every appointment in the public service sector.

The High Court of Justice, in a panel presided by Supreme Court President Miriam Naor, dealt ardently with a petition filed by Meretz’s female Knesset members against Eyal Karim’s appointment as chief military rabbi. The petition ascribed to Karim inappropriate comments against women and homosexuals and the chief justice was quoted as saying during the discussion, “We want to hear what he has to say. What was his stand at the time, what is his stand now, whether he has reconsidered it.”
Karim was required, therefore, to submit a deposition and explain his stand, to share his opinions and views with the High Court, and then it would be decided if he was worthy of the position. He did it, and the petitioners announced that the petition had reached its goal and that there was no need to continue the discussion.
In a ruling expressing satisfaction, and perhaps even pride over the achievement, in addition to a slight admonition, Chief Justice Miriam Naor decided to shelve the petition in light of Karim’s “clear words” and wished him luck in his new position “for the glory of the State of Israel.”
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Legitimate and illegitimate judicial activism

This article was published in the Jerusalem Post on August 23, 2016
The recent Jerusalem Post editorial “Judicial activism – the lesser evil” criticizes the views expressed in my book The Purse and the Sword – The Trials of Israel’s Legal Revolution while extolling
a long list of Supreme Court decisions. I am afraid that my position has been misunderstood. In my view, judicial activism may be justified in some instances but is unacceptable when it disregards reasonable Knesset legislation, assumes that everything is justiciable, ignores the separation of powers and turns the court into a player in the political and governmental arena.
The distinction between different types of judicial activism can be demonstrated by reference to two lines of cases, both discussed in my book and both equally praised in your editorial. In one of


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The Purse and the Sword

The book presents a critical analysis of the Israeli legal system in the context of Israeli politics, history and the forces that shape Israel society. The book examines the extensive powers that Israel's Supreme Court arrogated to itself since the 1980s and traces the history of the transformation of the Israeli legal system and the shifts in the balance of power between the branches of government. Centrally, this shift, has put unprecedented power in the hands of both the Court and Israel’s attorney general and state prosecution at the expense of Israel’s cabinet, constituting its executive branch, and the Knesset, its parliament. The expansion of judicial power followed the weakening of the political leadership in the wake of the Yom Kippur war of 1973, and the election results in the following years.
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Balancing the Constitutional Revolution

"Jerusalem Report"
An override law would enhance the standing of the Supreme Court and confer legitimacy on its power to annul laws
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The Case of the Attorney General

Jerusalem Report"
המאמר עוסק בסמכויות הרחבות של היועץ המשפטי, שלמיטב ידיעתי אין מדינה בעולם המעניקה סמכויות כאלה לבעל תפקיד שאיננו נבחר על ידי הציבור. המאמר עוסק גם בהשלכות המהפכה המשפטית ותרומתן להרחבת סמכויות היועץ המשפטי, וכן להליך בחירתו ולכישלונן של שתי ועדות החיפוש, להציע מועמדים בהתאם לדרישות העולות מדו"ח ועדת שמגר בנושא ומהחלטות הממשלה.
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Goldstone Report – The terrorists' Magna Carta

"Jerusalem Post"

The fact finding mission to Gaza was created with a dubious mandate, populated by biased members, influenced by Hamas observers, and conducted with a disregard for Israeli evidence and witnesses.

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To Kill & Take Posession

The stories in the Bible present some of the most memorable approaches to justice ever described. Legal scholar Daniel Friedmann presents an innovative exploration of the legal, moral, and political aspects of some of the best-known and dramatic biblical tales.From God's judgment on Adam and Eve, to David and Goliath's "Trial by Combat", to the issues of matrimony, adultery, and polygamy raised in the story of Abraham and Sarah, Friedmann presents compelling insights on a wide range of themes in biblical stories.
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